10 Surprising Virtual Machine Optimizations

Learn how to gain efficiency with these virtual machine optimization tips. They aren't part of any marketing literature, but they should be.

Virtual infrastructures suffer from inefficiencies that have simple solutions. From poor virtual machine performance to stalled Motions to confusing system names, these 10 virtual machine optimization tips explain how to easily solve each problem. This list of 10 items can increase efficiency, decrease unexpected downtime and can make your virtualization efforts pay for themselves.

1. Updated Hardware

Although using the latest hardware for your virtualization infrastructure has obvious optimization capability, updated hardware refers to firmware and BIOS updates. Keep track of critical updates in these two areas and maintain quarterly patch cycles for hardware. Hardware patch maintenance is often overlooked as part of an overall support plan. Ignoring hardware patches can result in failures or security breaches. Performance optimization is often a positive side-effect of hardware updates.

2. Host Licensing

Host licensing won't boost performance, but purchasing licenses or expanded licenses from your vendor unlocks features that aren't available in free versions or in standard versions. For example, upgrading from VMware vSphere Enterprise to Enterprise Plus unlocks scalability features that significantly expands host and virtual machine (VM) capabilities.

3. Dedicated Motion Network

When configuring a virtual infrastructure, pay particular attention to network setup. Create a separate network, an internal private network, for Motions (moving workloads between hosts). This private network should have gigabit (Gb) or multi-Gb capacity. This isolation creates a network between virtual host systems that provides a fast and secure substrate for workload and storage Motions.

4. Separate Disk Images

The default behavior, when creating multiple virtual disks for a single VM, is to keep all virtual disks together on the same LUN or disk array. Separating those disks results in faster disk response. For example, for a Windows server, separate C: and D: virtual disks onto different LUNs for better performance.

5. Limit vCPUs

Perhaps the least intuitive of all VM optimizations is the idea that reducing the number of virtual CPUs (vCPUs) will boost VM performance. It does. Without mulling complex algorithms, accept the fact that single vCPU per VM increases performance because it decreases wait on host resources. If your VMs with multiple processors suffer from performance problems and you can't figure out why, drop the number of vCPUs to two or one and enjoy the performance boost.

This article was originally published on Apr 22, 2011
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